Supreme Court says "Non- examination of Investigating Officer creates a material lacuna"

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Supreme Court while hearing the Munna Lal vs. the State of Uttar Pradesh case stated that the charge that the appellants had murdered deceased could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt; therefore, they were entitled to the benefit of doubt. The top Court also highlighted that there was an apparent inconsistency between the versions of two witnesses, Ram Vilas and Hemraj. Moreover, the delay in recording the statement of third witness during the investigation was not referred and remained unjustified. The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta stated that “Non- examination of Investigating Officer creates a material lacuna in the effort of the prosecution to nail the appellants, thereby creating reasonable doubt in the prosecution case.”

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In this case, four accused were armed with ‘bandook’, ‘kanta’ (sharp edged weapon), ‘tamancha’ (locally made gun), and ‘lathi’ respectively and were hurling abuses, and exhorting to kill deceased. The deceased received gunshot injuries from two of the accused, whereas other two accused inflicted blows on him by kanta and lathi, respectively. The Sessions Judge had convicted the accused by reason of consistent and unimpeachable direct evidence and supported dependable probabilities, existence of motive, medical evidence and all other circumstances. Life imprisonment sentence by Sessions judge was imposed upon the three surviving accused whereas the High Court concurred with the findings returned by the Sessions Judge and observed that there was no sufficient ground to interfere. The case was further presented before the Supreme Court and judgments conviction and order of sentence contained in the Trial and High Court were unsustainable and that was set aside. Lastly, the appeal presented before the bench of the top Court was allowed.

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